Combatting fake news through education

  • Awareness
  • 29/06/2017
  • Florian Daniel, Youth Ambassador

The June 2017 edition of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin focuses on the highly topical issue of fake news. As always in the work we do in creating a safer and better internet, gaining the perspectives of young people is essential. Here, Florian from Austria shares his views.

"If you think about the enormous amount of information that is available online, especially on social media, you can ask yourself two questions: Where is this information coming from? Is this source reliable and trustworthy? Asking those two questions can be a simple and efficient way to avoid consuming fake news. However, before you can ask yourself those questions, they need to first come to your mind! But how can we achieve the goal of getting everyone to think in such a way and question the content they see? I'm convinced that introducing a three-step plan is the way to go.

"Firstly, we need to change the way we teach kids about social media, and media consumption more generally. In today's world, it's not only important how much time you spend on the internet, but also WHERE you spend that time. Children (and adults) need to develop the skills to identify webpages that promote fake news or have a tendency to provide one-sided, biased opinions.

"This means we must educate our teachers and provide them with structured and easy-to-read material to use in the classroom. Following on from that, the educational system must be adapted to include media literacy in each and every school subject.

"Creating a good educational foundation to help users identifying fake news, is therefore key in diminishing fake news. If nobody reads the stories, nobody will write them.

"It is not enough to educate just our teachers, however. Parents, and other adults who work with children daily, need to be educated too. Obviously, this is a complex task, and one which cannot be achieved as easily. National states, but also the European Union, must offer easy-to-access, free (or subsidised) courses that can provide the necessary information for non-teachers. It is important to mention that this can be done in both cities and rural areas, and of course also online. Using online webinars, for example, would not only be the cheapest option, but would also provide the highest possible outreach.

"Thanks to technological advancements, and a big focus on the issue of fake news by the tech community, we can also try to tackle fake news with a technical approach.

"In short, my three-step plan consists of:

  1. Education for teachers.
  2. Include media literacy in every school subject.
  3. Provide additional courses for non-teachers.

"Of course, such an approach would cost a lot of money and is based on a lot of trainers and educators that are already experts. Nevertheless, I honestly believe that this is the way to go to avoid, and finally eradicate, fake news."

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal, European Schoolnet, the European Commission or any related organisations or parties.

About the author:
Florian, Austrian youth ambassadorFlorian Daniel, a 21-year-old student, has been engaged in internet governance (IG) processes for more than five years. Thanks to his technical education in Austria, he has an in-depth knowledge of online issues and their technical aspects. Further engagement at both national and international level has helped Florian to gain a good understanding of online safety issues concerning children and adults.

Florian spent six months working for Kaspersky Lab, where he gained further insights in the world of internet security. Currently he is studying management and law in Austria.


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